NFL Free Agency 2022: Winners and Losers from the First Two Days

The new league year in the NFL begins on March 16, at which point free agents can put their verbally agreed-upon contracts into writing. However, the deals have been flowing over the two-day legal tampering period, and lots of money has been changing hands. NFL Free Agency has had its winners and losers so far, stretching from teams failing to address offseason needs or making decisions that financially didn’t make sense.

NFL Free Agency Winners

Baltimore RavensBaltimore Ravens:

  • OT Morgan Moses – 3 years, $15 million
  • S Marcus Williams – 5 years, $70 million, $37 million guaranteed

The Ravens have only made two moves so far, but they were excellent. Marcus Williams has never been selected to a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team, but he’s one of the best safeties in the NFL as Pro Football Focus has graded him inside the league’s top seven at his position in each of the last three seasons. With a healthy Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey back in the lineup, Williams should help the Ravens’ secondary get back to being among the best in the NFL.

The Ravens had a need at the position with Alejandro Villanueva retiring this offseason, particularly with Ronnie Stanley suffering season-ending injuries in each of the past two seasons. Morgan Moses was also an excellent value at offensive tackle for just $5 million per season. Moses has been highly durable – he’s played in 113 consecutive games dating back to 2015 – and he ranked 16th in pass-lock win rate among 68 qualifying offensive tackles, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Cincinnati BengalsCincinnati Bengals:

  • OG Alex Cappa – 4 years, $35 million
  • OG Ted Karras – 3 years, $18 million
  • DT B.J. Hill – 3 years, $30 million

The Bengals had an 18% pass block win rate in the Super Bowl, the worst of any team in any game last season, per NFL Next Gen Stats, and everyone knew the offensive line was their most significant need. Alex Cappa and Ted Karras will be immediate starters in the interior of the offensive line, and they will provide an excellent baseline of pass-protection production for Joe Burrow that wasn’t there last season. With recent draft picks Jonah Williams, and Jackson Carman presumed starters, the right tackle position is the only remaining question mark on the Bengals’ offensive line.

With Larry Ogunjobi and B.J. Hill both free agents this offseason, the Bengals were unlikely to keep both starting defensive linemen. Ogunjobi got a 3-year, $40.5 million contract from the Bears, and he was rated as just the 90th-best defensive tackle in the NFL last season per PFF. Hill, meanwhile, was paid $3 million per season less and was rated as the 26th-best defensive lineman in the NFL last season per PFF. Locking in that value on an underrated defensive line was a great use of resources for the Bengals.

Los Angeles ChargersLos Angeles Chargers:

  • WR Mike Williams – 3 years, $60 million, $40 million guaranteed
  • DT Sebastian Joseph-Day – 3 years, $24 million, $15 million guaranteed
  • CB J.C. Jackson – 5 years, $82.5 million, $40 million guaranteed

The Chargers are doing precisely what teams should do when they have a clear-cut top ten quarterback on a rookie contract as they’re maximizing their salary cap space to build a very talented roster. Resigning Mike Williams was a big priority after his career-best 76 catches for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns last season, and he’s rightfully being paid as one of the best receivers in the NFL. J.C. Jackson was the big splash on Tuesday, and he’s now one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in football. Jackson made his first Pro Bowl in 2021, and his 25 interceptions through his first four seasons are tied for the most in the NFL since 1970.

Sebastian Joseph-Day isn’t quite the same caliber of signing as Williams and Jackson, but he’s a solid run defender and can contribute as a pass-rusher as well. From a pass-rushing perspective, it will be helpful for him to be playing next to Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, which is now arguably the best edge-rushing tandem in football following Mack’s trade acquisition from the Bears. Most importantly, however, the Chargers are now in a position where they aren’t locked into one position in the draft. They’ve taken care of their most significant needs and can now truly take the best player available in April.

NFL Free Agency Losers

Dallas CowboysDallas Cowboys:

  • WR Michael Gallup – 5 years, $57.5 million, $23 million guaranteed
  • DE DeMarcus Lawrence – 3 years, $40 million, $30 million guaranteed
  • S Malik Hooker – 2 years, $8 million

I wasn’t a massive fan of the Amari Cooper trade, as I believe they could have received more than a fifth-round pick, but it’s unfair to include that in this analysis. I liked the team’s initial signings with DeMarcus Lawrence on a ridiculously team-friendly deal – he was ranked as the fourth-best edge rusher in the NFL last year by PFF and is being paid the 25th-most money per year at the position. Michael Gallup is also on a reasonable contract to help replace some of the lost value from the Amari Cooper trade. Malik Hooker was quietly excellent last season in limited time, and the Cowboys did well to retain him.

However, Randy Gregory backing out of his contract only to sign essentially the same deal with the Broncos was embarrassing. Dallas reportedly had a clause that voided Gregory’s contract if he was fined or suspended for any drug offense or violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, per ESPN’s Ed Werner. His prior contract didn’t have that language. It was a slap in the face to Gregory, who has worked hard to overcome his previous issues, and he responded appropriately. Losing him was a big blow, as was losing guard Connor Williams and receiver Cedrick Wilson. The Cowboys have taken a big step back this offseason in their hunt for a Super Bowl, and the Gregory fiasco is embarrassing for “America’s Team.”

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers:

  • QB Aaron Rodgers (extension) – 3 years, $150.8 million, $101.5 million guaranteed
  • WR Allen Lazard – 1 year, $3.986 million (second-round restricted free agent tender)
  • LB De’Vondre Campbell – 5 years, $50 million
  • LB Preston Smith (extension) – 4 years, $52.5 million

The Packers accomplished their primary goal in bringing back Aaron Rodgers, but at what cost? With his contract representing a $59 million cap hit in 2025 and a $53.4 million cap hit in 2026, Green Bay is entirely beholden to their previously disgruntled quarterback. They are screwed beyond belief from a salary cap standpoint if he retires. The Packers have Jaire Alexander as a significant free agent in 2023, Rashan Gary in 2024, and David Bakhtiari and Kenny Clark in 2025. Retaining all of those players will be incredibly difficult.

Green Bay was already forced to release Za’Darius Smith and Billy Turner this offseason, and they will have to get creative to retain a Super Bowl-competitive roster moving forward. It starts with drafting starters with premium draft picks, not backup quarterbacks. The latest news that Davante Adams won’t play on the franchise tag in 2022 further puts the Packers in a bind, particularly after Christian Kirk got a massive four-year, $84 million contract. Adams could hit $30 million per season. Resigning De’Vondre Campbell on a team-friendly deal and reworking Preston Smith’s contract to help the cap situation were minor wins. The Packers are in trouble.

Jacksonville JaguarsJacksonville Jaguars:

  • WR Zay Jones – 3 years, $24 million
  • WR Christian Kirk – 4 years, $72 million, $37 million guaranteed
  • TE Evan Engram – 1 year, $9 million, $8.25 million guaranteed
  • OG Brandon Scherff – 3 years, $49.5 million, $30 million guaranteed
  • OG Tyler Shatley – 2 years, $6.8 million, $2.35 million guaranteed
  • DT Folorunso Fatukasi – 3 years, $30 million, $20 million guaranteed
  • LB Foyesade Oluokun – 3 years, $45 million, $28 million guaranteed

The Jaguars improved throughout the two-day legal tampering period, but at what cost? It’s easy to argue that they overpaid every one of their free agency signings, some significantly. Christian Kirk is set to count for over $20 million against the cap in both 2023 and 2024, and only six receivers are making that much money in terms of average annual value. The Jaguars have filled out their receiving corps with many B- options and don’t have an alpha receiver to show for their massive expenditures. Brandon Scherff is one of the best offensive guards in the NFL and was an All-Pro player in 2020, but the offensive guard isn’t the most crucial position to splurge on in free agency. None of the Jaguars’ moves on offense genuinely move the needle in helping Trevor Lawrence develop.

On defense, Jacksonville didn’t do much better. The Jaguars are already paying Joe Schobert and Myles Jack a combined $15 million to play off-ball linebacker for different teams. Now, Foyesade Oluokon will be making $15 million per year to play the same position. While he led the league in tackles last year, he ranked just 65th among 87 eligible linebackers on PFF the previous season. Folorunso Fatukasi is a stout run-defending defensive tackle who ranked in the 97th percentile of all defensive linemen in that category in 2019 and 2020, but he’s coming off a down season. With needs at more premium positions in edge rusher and cornerback, was this the best use of resources in Trent Baalke’s first offseason as general manager?

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

Hot NFL Stories